The following post is long, and it's probably rambling, and it may not make a lot of sense, and it may not mean much to anyone who never knew my little buddy, Guero...but I don't care, it's cathartic to me. So, indulge me a little. I'll probably write another post later to tell you a little about this cat, but I can't right now...
We lost our cat, Guero, yesterday morning, after a sudden downturn in his health. Well, it was less of a downturn than a cliff dive. He was just about 13 years old, not that old for a cat. His sister, Cherise, died in 2005 after suffering through some pretty bad times caused by, believe it or not, irritable bowel disorder. In her case, we had to make the decision to put her down, which was not a decision that either Robyn or I relished.
Guero, too, was fairly recently (in the last year) diagnosed with IBD, but nowhere near as bad a case as Cherise had, thankfully. We were able to manage his more with diet and meds. And he seemed to be doing well, all things considered.
Until Friday of last week, that is. We’d noticed some loss of appetite and he looked like he was loosing weight, so we made an appointment to see the vet. He was down to 8 lbs 5 oz. For perspective, in November, 2008 he weighed 11 ½ pounds. The vet decided to add one more antibiotic to his regimen and re-start his B-12 shots, since last time he went through a series of B-12 injections, it really seemed to perk him up. He had a shot Friday and I was supposed to give him follow-up injections every four days.
He didn’t seem all that much better, so we decided to try to give him one Monday night, rather than wait until Tuesday. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was because he seemed more wiggly than normal or because when I tried to pull the skin up for the injection, it just felt like there wasn’t enough to do it, or maybe I just chickened out. For whatever reason, though, I decided to take him in Tuesday morning to allow the vet tech to do it. That way I could also get his weight again.
He was down to 7 lbs 13 ½ oz. The tech also had a hard time giving him the shot, there just wasn’t enough tissue to get the fluid to stay in, I guess.
I should say that over the weekend, Robyn had picked up some adult cat milk to see if we could get him to get some more nourishment and he seemed to like it, so he was getting that fairly regularly. Otherwise, he was picking at his food, but not really eating enough.
I should say here that this cat loved to eat. He never had a weight problem, so he was never an overeater but he was not hesitant to let you know when the food bowls were empty and he chowed down with the best. So, Guero not wanting to eat was worrying. Especially since cats, once they’ve stopped eating for a while, generally don’t start up easily again, their bodies just stop wanting it, apparently.
So, the shot seemed to perk him up some and during the day on Tuesday, the vet called Robyn and told her to pick up some junk food (cheap cat food) to see if he’d at least eat that. (He’s normally on a special diet of Venison and Pea food.) and he did seem to eat it some. But Wednesday, when I got home from work, things were not good.
He hadn’t touched any of his food all day. He’d thrown up, so he’d lost what little he’d eaten in the morning. And he was very, very weak.
And I freaked out. I called the vet and told them I needed to bring him in. Our regular vet wasn’t there but one of the other doctors said to bring him in but I’d most likely have to leave him and they’d look at him between appointments (it was 5 PM, they closed at 7 PM) I rushed him over and left a message at Robyn’s office phone that we were going there and for her to call me (she’d left her cell at home…)
They took him in and the tech was also very worried looking, but they were going to start him on fluid and said they’d call when they could tell me something. By this time, Robyn had called and was on her way to meet me at the vet, so I waited outside for her (forever, it felt like) and then we went home to wait.
I have to admit, I was very, very worried. And more than a little emotional. I just wasn’t ready (like that has anything to do with it) for Guero to die.
When the vet called and we went back, they were really worried. His temperature was 92 degrees (cats are normally up just over 100.) and he was pretty unresponsive. They had us take him to the 24 hour emergency vet clinic so someone could keep an eye on him overnight. I don’t remember everything that the doctor at the overnight place said, but basically, they did some blood work while we waited and Guero’s blood sugar was highly elevated, off the charts. It appeared that he’d suddenly developed diabetes. Probably brought on by everything else that was going on. His blood pressure was very low, though they were successful at getting his temp to begin to go up.
When we finally left at about 9:30 or so, they planned on continuing to monitor his blood sugar, give IV insulin and other meds and fluids and continue to try to keep his temp normal, and when the critical care doctor arrived in the morning, they planned on doing a sonogram to see what they could see. We left them with instructions to call, of course, if anything major happened.
When I woke up yesterday and realized that no one had called all night, I thought that was a good thing. I figured that I’d call once the critical doc got in and they did there thing, I’d probably go get him and take him back in to see his normal vet and we’d get to bring him home. But when I called to check up on him, they told me that he had been pretty unresponsive to most of what they were doing, though the insulin seemed to be bringing down the blood sugars. He had not responded well to the aggressive fluids, and they were just waiting for the other doctor to get in.
I called and left a message for our regular vet, asking her to call the emergency place first thing and catch up.
She called and spoke to Robyn a little while later. The news wasn’t good at all. While, she said, she would never tell us that we had to, her thoughts were that there was nothing more that could be done and that the time had come for us to make that hard decision again.
As much as I hate it, that’s what we decided to do. Robyn and I got in the car to go. When we were about half way to the vet’s, the doctor called and told me that Guero was dying…that he most likely wouldn’t make it until we got there. And he didn’t.
We got to spend a little time with him after talking to the doctor about what all had happened. I don’t really remember all of it, honestly. Nor, I guess, at this point does it matter.
We decided, since we now owned our home and weren’t planning on moving, that we’d take him home and bury him, instead of cremation. It wasn’t an easy choice, and honestly, I’m still not sure it was the right one, though I’m sure, in time, I’ll be okay with it more. To be honest, it was, at least a little, about the money. The fact that it cost over $200 to have done was part of the decision, especially in light of the probably $1000 + worth of bills we’d racked up already since last Friday. So, we took him home.
And I had to dig a hole. And I had to lay one of my best friends in it. And I had to fill it in with dirt. And it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
He was always thirsty, too. Did I mention that? And so, before I filled in his grave, I placed in it his favorite coffee cup full of water. It was the cup I bought when we got snowed in in Beaver, Utah when we were driving to Salt Lake during our move. At the Garden of Eatin’ restaurant. I thought it was funny. It said “Garden of Eatin’, Beaver, UT”
I hope he’s not thirsty now.